It is late on a cold, snowy night here in Pittsburgh. Jelly Bean and I are wrapped up in our favorite quilt. I am enjoying a steamy cup of ginger tea and she has a new toy to celebrate her ‘birthday;’ she came home with me a year ago Saturday. You might have guessed from this weeks title that Mozart’s ‘little serenade’ is playing as I write to you. We have settled in tonight, like we do every night, with my very favorite text for a little light reading before we go to sleep.
My late night, light reading is comforting and appealing, like a little serenade. This year my light reading is the Oxford edition of Shakespeare’s complete works. I have 3 different editions of the ‘Complete Works’ as well as numerous critical editions of individual plays. It came as a surprise to see how many of my book shelves are weighed down with Shakespeare’s texts. It was more surprising to take stock of this year when Shakespeare’s complete works count as light reading.
I am pleasantly surprised at how much I learned this year, and how much my reading and writing skills have improved. It feels a little like learning a foreign language; you remember the big steps toward contemplation and expression. Right now I am participating in a seminar focused on ‘The Tempest’, and recently completed one on Shakespeare and Johnson’s comedies. This year I focused more narrowly on the Literature of The Later Middle Ages and Shakespeare. It has been an intense though liberating and empowering reading experience.
I could not have imagined what a liberating and empowering reading experience would be like. I never thought I would have a reading experience like this. It is a very pleasant surprise and a testament to what I have learned in this program. It is a bit strange to feel so confident as a reader, especially because I did not read much fiction before joining Goldsmith’s College and the English Department. For me this is reading on a whole different scale. I am surprised at how much complexity, emotion and sheer force of intellect is packed into reading and interpreting these texts.
Reading, for me, is a very personal affair, as opposed to writing, which always feels like there are traces of a public medium surrounding it. You might write something intending it to be intimate and private, but when words hit the page they become available for interpretation. That really surprised me this year because I suddenly realized the academic and professional achievements of the scholars who will read my exam papers on Shakespeare’s works.
Exams are only 60 days away – another surprise. How did a year go by so quickly? Jelly Bean and I are very surprised to realize she came home from the shelter a year ago on Saturday. Suddenly I feel very aware of all the late night reading that has contributed to my confidence as a reader and appreciation of both texts and this wonderful program. Don’t be surprised that exam day will be here before you know it. I know we will all be doing a little late night reading the next few months. Realizing exams are so close makes my little bits of night reading seem inspiring, engaging and ever so pleasing, like my Jelly Bean, a good cup of tea, favorite old quilt, and a little serenade.